More business deals are lost in social settings than have ever been lostin the boardroom, and most likely, the business social setting is at the dining table. That is why it is extremely important to be confident and comfortable at the dining table as well as at the boardroom table.
I always say, “The meal can seal the deal!” So let me equip you with tips and faux pas that will help you to be comfortable at the dining table and, as a result, you can focus on “the deal."
• BE ON TIME!It is a common faux pas and bad first impression to be late for any event and especially for a business dinner meeting. However, if you have an emergency, call immediately to let others know you will be late and your approximate arrival time.
• Turn your cell phone on manner mode. Inform others if you are expecting an important call then step out to a private place to take the call when it arrives.
• You should be seated from the left side of the chair and exit from the right side when possible.
• Immediately after being seated, place your napkin in your lap with the fold toward you.
• Ask the waiter for recommendations from the menu, and do not order ribs or spaghetti or you will find yourself spending more time tending to your food than your business.
• If you are eating at a buffet, wait for at least one or two people to get back to the table before starting to eat. When ordering off the menu, wait until everyone has been served before you start eating.
• Pace yourself — never eat faster or slower than everyone else.
• When leaving the table, always push your chair back to the table.
• Pass food to the right.
• Never place your napkin on the table until you are leaving, and then place it to the left of your plate.
• Place your napkin in the chair seat when you excuse yourself from the table with plans to return.
• Place butter on your bread plate and then spread it on your roll, one bite at atime. It is appropriate to open a hot roll and butter it immediately.
• Be considerate of others around you by using your “manners voice.”
• A properly trained waitperson will serve your meal to you on the left and pick up from your right.
• The person who paid for the meal should receive a thank you note immediately afterwards.
• Excellent service and large tips go hand in hand. Start with a 15 percent tip and tip accordingly depending on the level of service.
: Never use a toothpick or chew gum in public!
• Talking with your mouth full.
• Pointing with your utensils.
• Taking a first bite before everyone has been served.
• Reverting to childhood by cutting your meal into bite-size pieces, instead ofcutting one bite at a time.
• Putting used utensils back on the table or hanging the knife and fork off your plate like paddles on a rowboat. Utensils should be placed in the resting position on the plate.
• Passing the salt and pepper separately or passing with your hand on the top of the shakers.
• Eating a roll the way you eat an apple instead of tearing off and buttering one bite at a time.
• Eating your neighbor's salad or drinking her water. Remember B.M.W
. — B
read to the left, M
eal in the center, and W
ater to the right.
• Putting on makeup at the table. All personal grooming should be reserved forthe restroom.
• Being rude to the waiter and other wait staff — this shows lack of class and tells much about you.
Joy Weaver is renowned etiquette expert and author of “Just Ask Joy… How to Be Socially Savvy in All Situations”—a book highly endorsed by Jean and Zig Ziglar. Joy is a regular guest on ABC’s Good Morning Texas and the CBS/11 Early Show. She is nationally published and has been featured on ABC’s The View, in the Associated Press, New York Times, USA Today, Southern Living Magazine, Dallas Morning News, and The Dallas Business Journal. Protocol Enterprises/Just Ask Joy is based in Dallas and has served clients across the country since 2000. You can learn more at www.justaskjoy.com.